Pretty much everyone in the know is aware of the exploding beer scene in San Diego. Now it’s time to set our sights on the bourgeoning beer activity taking place in Vista, an inland community located 42 miles from the coastal city.
Located in a nice business plaza (behind Target) near the old Green Flash (now Latitude 33), is Toolbox Brewing Company. The brewery opened in September, 2014 and at that time was the 91st brewery to open in San Diego County, a number that has now grown to more than 150.
The story behind the name is that Toolbox has often been used to describe the San Diego downtown skyline, where co-owners Amanda Elder and Spencer Peters grew up, and the name and skyscraper logo is their way to pay tribute to their hometown.
What makes Toolbox stand out from the rest is its commitment to making 100% of its creations ales brewed with wild yeast and bacteria, and it is the first brewery in the area to do so. Lovers of sour beers, like myself, will be rewarded here with a plethora of funky farmhouse ales and tart wild ales.
We made ourselves comfortable at the L-shaped bar of the tasting room, which like many in the North County is family and pet friendly. You’ll find yourself right in the midst of the brewing operations just steps away and also setting the mood for the room are tap handles shaped like tools, several barrels positioned throughout the space that serve as extra tables, seating stools shaped like bottle caps and rows upon rows of barrels filled with aging beer.
Owner & Operator Amanda Elder and Head Brewer & Blender Ehren Schmidt (who formerly brewed at St. Louis Brewery) were our guides, taking us through their current offerings. We experienced Bramble on Rose, a barrel-aged American Wild Ale fermented with San Diego-grown blackberries; Life Gose On, spiced with coriander and sea salt from nearby La Jolla; Apropos—an apricot Berliner Weiss soured with lactic acid; and the whimsical-named Free Range Lettuce—a sour pale ale dry hopped with Amarillo, Galaxy and Hallertau Blanc. Without exception each beer was a glorious celebration of all things sour, with varying degrees of sour intensity.
The brewery started small and has gradually added to its repertoire, with 185 wood barrels now in use and a bottling line being utilized for two to three releases a month, which usually sell out quickly. The brewery produced 504 barrels in 2015 and is on track to increase that amount in 2016. This unique brewery is a must-stop for anyone tired of the played out IPA scene, any sour beer fan, or anyone wanting to get their feet wet in the funky sour beer styles, which have quickly become one of the more popular beer trends.
Toolbox Brewing Company
1495 Poinsettia Ave Suite 148
Vista, CA 92081
Tasting Room Hours:
Mon-Thur 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
Fri 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sun 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Photos by John Rockwell
Bob Barnes is editorial director of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, regional correspondent for Celebrator Beer News and writes the Top 10 Beer lists for Gayot.com. He welcomes your inquiries and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.